Email is one of the primary cybersecurity threats to your business and in this post we describe 7 emails you should never open.
Email is the primary tool that companies like yours use for daily communications in the modern business world. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s effective, but it’s also the main source of malware and spam that could threaten your business. If you’re not careful, your email could be the key for cybercriminals that are trying to exploit you.
Emails You Should Never Open are an Ever-present Threat to Modern Businesses
Without up-to-date and varied IT security measures, successful email hacks can compromise your customers’ and employees’ sensitive data and harm your systems, resulting in costly downtime, and worse.
As cyber threats via email continue to evolve, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant about the emails you open. Managed network security services providers can help protect your business from cyber-attacks, but employees also play a critical role in reducing risks.
Here are seven types of emails you should never open:
Emails with attachments from unknown or suspicious sources can contain viruses or malware that can compromise your network. Unless you specifically know the sender of an email, never, ever open an attachment. That includes PDFs, zip files, music and video files and anything referencing an unpaid invoice or accounting file (many hackers use this to get people in accounting departments to open emails). Of course, any file can carry a virus, so better to delete it than be sorry.
A managed IT services provider can help identify and block these types of emails, but it’s important for employees to be cautious and avoid opening attachments from unknown sources.
Phishing emails are designed to trick you into giving away sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers. They often come from seemingly legitimate sources like financial institutions or e-commerce websites. To protect your business from phishing attacks, a managed network security services provider can help train employees to recognize and report suspicious emails.
Emails that create a sense of urgency or require immediate action can be a red flag and one of the emails you should never open. Cybercriminals often use urgency as a tactic to get people to act quickly without thinking. A managed network security services provider can help implement policies and procedures to reduce the risk of employees falling for these tricks.
Too Good to be True Emails You Should Never Open
Emails promising free gifts, lottery winnings, or other rewards that seem too good to be true are often scams. These emails can contain malware or links to fake websites that can compromise your network. A managed network security services provider can help implement filters to block these types of emails.
The Authority Email
One of the most common phishing emails are ones impersonating your bank, the IRS or some authority figure. The rule of thumb is this: any email that comes in where 1) you don’t personally know the sender, including emails from the IRS, Microsoft or your “bank,” and 2) asks you to “verify” your account should be deleted. Remember, ANY important notification will be sent via old-fashioned snail mail. If it’s important, they can call you.
The “Account Verification” Email
Any email that asks you to verify your password, bank information or login credentials, or to update your account information, should be ignored. No legitimate vendor sends emails asking for this; they will simply ask you upon logging in to update or verify your information if that’s necessary.
The Typo Email
Another big warning sign is typos. Emails coming from overseas (which is where most of these attacks come from) are written by people who do not speak or write English well. Therefore, if there are obvious typos or grammar mistakes, delete it.
Protecting your business against email cyber threats
Choosing the right managed network security services provider is critical to the success of your cybersecurity strategy. Here are some tips on what to look for:
Look for a provider with a proven track record of delivering comprehensive security solutions. Ask for references and case studies that demonstrate their expertise.
Choose a provider with a solid reputation in the industry. Check online reviews and ratings to see what other customers are saying about their experience.
Make sure your provider uses the latest technology and tools to detect and prevent cyber threats. Ask about their approach to threat intelligence and how they stay up-to-date with the latest threats.
Choose a cybersecurity provider that offers 24/7 monitoring and support. Make sure they have a dedicated team of security experts who can quickly respond to any issues. In addition to choosing the right provider, it’s important to have a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy in place. This should include regular employee training, regular software and hardware updates, and regular vulnerability assessments.
Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Email Cyber Threats
Keep Link Clicking to a Minimum
Clicking on links that appear in random emails just isn’t safe. Hyperlinks are commonly used to lead unsuspecting employees to phishing and malware websites. Be sure to only click links when they’re from a confirmed, expected source, and when they aren’t part of a sales pitch, or an attempt to get information from you.
Manage A Safe Sender’s List
No matter how new, or costly, or flashy your current spam filter is, it won’t keep unwanted spam out of your inbox forever. Whenever you see that a spammer’s email has made it past your filter, take a moment to block it so that it won’t happen again.
Do Not Open Unsolicited Email Attachments
This is a crucial email security practice. Suspicious email attachments from unknown or untrustworthy senders are the most common source of malware, ransomware, and other digital threats. Even if it’s from a friend or colleague, consider the message they send along with it; is it worded properly? Does it sound like it’s from them? It’s always a smart move to call the sender or speak in person if possible to confirm that they sent the email. Otherwise, simply delete it until you can be sure of its authenticity.
Diligently Scan for Viruses and Malware
Another way to double check a suspicious emails you should never open is to run a malware and virus scan on it. Even though you may have to do so more often than is convenient, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
This post was updated 6/19/2023. Originally published 8/24/2017